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Our Blog: Fecal Screening



Hello Gentle Care Clients!

We hope you are enjoying your spring so far. Now that it's May there are so many things to look forward to; school getting out, vacations, picnics, and warm weather. Since many of our pets accompany us on our summer outings, we wanted to talk about fecal screening for parasites.

Intestinal parasites are a common issue veterinarians see in their patients. Pets of all ages can get them but the young are typically the most vulnerable. The relationship with cats, dogs and parasites has evolved over many, many years. However, we do have some control over their existence in our pets, our environment, and around our family with proper fecal screening and monthly parasite control. Your first question might be; how do I know my pet has intestinal parasites? Some parasites are big enough you can see them in your pet's stool or your pet may be lethargic or have diarrhea. However evidence for most parasites are on seen on a microscopic level. Intestinal parasite screenings, also known as a fecal flotation, are a common practice and we recommend an annual screening as part of their overall wellness package. The test detects the eggs of mature parasites that live inside the body and then shed their eggs into the your pet's stool. Some of these parasites are worm-like, others are tiny single-celled organisms called protozoa. Most of the parasites live in the intestine, but a few can live elsewhere in the pet's body. In order to do the fecal test, your veterinarian needs about a one inch piece of fresh stool, no more than 12-24 hours old. It should be as free as possible of grass, gravel, kitty litter, etc. Your veterinarian may provide a container to collect the sample, but any clean, dry container with a tightly fitting lid or ziploc bag can be used.


Cats

Cats can get a variety of intestinal parasites. Infestations of intestinal parasites can cause a variety of symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, bloat, unexplained weight loss, constipation, and trouble breathing. Sometimes cats demonstrate few to no outward signs of infection, and the infestation can go undetected despite being a potentially serious health problem. Some feline parasitic worms are hazards for human health as well. Common intestinal parasites seen in cats are hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms. The use of year around heartworm and a broad-spectrum parasite preventive as well as flea/tick control is the foundation of effective parasite control for your cat. Annual fecal screenings for adult cats are recommended and kittens should be checked 2-4 times their first year of life.


Dogs

Dogs too can have a variety of intestinal parasites and lead to symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, bloat, unexplained weight loss, inability to gain needed weight, fever, lack-luster coat and itchiness. Some of these intestinal parasites can lead to human exposure and infection putting you and your family at risk too. Common intestinal parasites for dogs are hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, tapeworms, coccidia, and giardia. Just like with cats, the use of year around heartworm and broad-spectrum parasite preventive as well as flea/tick product is the foundation of effective parasite control for your canine. Annual fecal screenings are recommended for adult dogs but puppies should be checked 2-4 times during their first year.

When intestinal parasites are found, we have several different de-worming medications depending on your pet's age and type of parasite.

Please call our office if you have any questions or concerns. If you suspect your pet might be affected, please call us. Gentle Care Animal Hospital 417-725-2386.



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